This is Part One of a 2-part post. Check back on Tuesday morning for Part Two.
part 1: the e-mail arrives
Halfway across the country, a man writes on a dusty keyboard. He edits. He contemplates his words. Finally, he smiles, feeling satisfied.
He moves his mouse and without hesitation clicks: Send.
Seconds later in the suburbs of Chicago, an e-mail shows up in Jennifer’s in-box. She’s half-asleep on the couch and awakened by the Bing! of her Smartphone.
The remote control is still her in her hand from the night before and the morning news is reporting about a shooting on the north side of town. There was a similar report yesterday and another the day before that. The crime report is becoming as regular as the weather. So regular that she doesn’t even remember the name of the boy who was reported dead yesterday.
A gray cat with big, pointy ears paws at her side, also annoyed by the Bing! but hopeful it was enough to get Jen off the couch and closer to the Whisker Lickins bag for a morning snack.
Pushing the crocheted blanket aside and scooting the cat off her chest, she feels a hundred aches. A pain in her shoulder, a cramp in her hip. The dull reminder in her low back of a surgery years ago. Sleeping on the couch was not a good idea. “Darn old age!” she whispers to herself. “Or, maybe it was the new workout I tried yesterday,” questioning the evilness of the Nike Training app downloaded to her Smartphone.
She looks its way and sees the flashing red light…a reminder of the Bing!
“Probably spam,” she thinks. After all, who would send her a message this early in the morning unless it was Ada venting about her ex or another failed job interview. She’s tiring of Ada’s e-mails but checks the message anyway.
Her first hunch was right. Spam. But, the subject line catches her eye faster than the del button. “Focus on Stage, Not Age,” it reads.
Jen pauses and looks down at herself, now talking out loud to no one. “Last night was fun, but then I spent the night on the couch and woke up alone beside a pointy-eared cat! And, I’m definitely going to be paying the piper for last night.”
“It might sound like I’m either 20 or 70, but I’m neither. I’m 40…right in the middle…and my life doesn’t fit the standard description of a typical middle-aged American woman who is waking up right now to make breakfast and rush her kids off to pony league games and cheerleading practice. What stage could I possibly be in?”
She opens the message….
to be continued.